Small Breakthroughs

Since I’m not in hardcore training mode right now, weekly training recaps will be more low-key and perhaps not-so-weekly.  I would’ve skipped this post altogether if it had not been for 2 runs this week that I’m excited to share with you.

On Thursday, I fell back on my standard “I want to run fast but not actually suffer/do a ‘real’ speed session” workout — fartleks!  The plan was warm-up for 1 mile, run 10 x (1 min sprint/2 min jog), and cool-down for the remainder.  Somewhere in the 3rd interval, it hit me that I was trying to run fast by increasing my stride length instead of keeping up with high cadence/turnover.  On my next interval, I took shorter, quicker steps, and my pace immediately dropped by over 30 seconds/mile!  Sure, it was only for one minute, but it was still really gratifying to change one little thing and get a big improvement.  Compared with my last 4 sets of fartleks in 2013, in which I averaged 7:55-8:00/mile for 10 intervals, I managed to run 7:29/mile average on Thursday.  This was also a big relief, because for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t run faster than my fastest timed mile of 7:53 (from >17 months ago!) for ONE stinkin’ minute.  So, from now on, I will focus on cadence!

The second mini-breakthrough came on Saturday morning.  The Gypsy Runner and I headed out to Lake Chabot for a trail run.  He had 5 miles planned and I had 8.5.  We started off together for about 1.5 miles, then went on our separate ways.  Even though I had my earphones and podcasts ready to go, I decided to forego the distraction and maintain focus.  I wanted to push this run a little harder than usual, since it would be my last long-ish run before leaving for Taiwan.  Also, I had been thinking a lot about my mental toughness, and I really felt like working on pushing the envelope.  Just for comparison, I typically take quite a few walk breaks when running around Lake Chabot and my fastest time before Saturday was 1:39, back in February.  On Saturday, I only walked twice and finished the loop in 1:32!  I have to admit that there were a few hills that almost got me walking, but when temptation lurked, I just look at the ground immediately ahead of me, pumped my arms, leaned forward, and tried my best to control my breath.  I think it worked ok!  Again, I increased my cadence and shortened my stride, which made things seem a little easier.  Best of all, I felt really strong throughout, especially when I finished the run at 9:00/mile pace.  Woot!

In addition to those wonderful runs, I had a couple of easy runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as a core workout on Tuesday and a bike commute on Friday.  Sunday has been 100% LAZY (hurray!).  Total running mileage: 21 miles.


This is probably my last post before I leave for Taiwan on Wednesday.  There’s a small chance that I’ll blog in Taiwan, but if not, see y’all in 2 weeks!  Before I sign off, just wanted to remind/tell you about 2 things:

1. Don’t forget to sign up for the Foster City 10-miler/5K!  Prices go up on 12/1, and you can save 10% with code “JLEE” through 1/1/14.  Corrigan Sports has recently announced that the other two 10-miler races will happen in May and August (cities TBA), and only the participants who complete all 3 races will receive a medal.5d3f89b6-d2. My friend Kate is leading a training program for the Oakland Half Marathon on behalf of Kaia Fit.  Maybe you remember Kate from her guest blog post, or from her recent accomplishment of completing a 50-mile race, but needless to say, she’s a very experienced runner and super nice to boot!  Here’s what she has to say about Kaia Fit: “Kaia Fit is a women’s strength training studio in Oakland owned by Sara Mohn and Mary McQueen, both of whom are personal trainers and have a long history of training, teaching, and helping women reach their fitness goals.”

Interested? They are holding an information session at See Jane Run in Oakland on Dec 17th at 7 pm (see the flyer below).  Some basic information about the program: the half-marathon training program starts on Jan 4th and ends March 23 when participants complete the Oakland Half Marathon.  The training is provided by RRCA certified coaches, and there will be holding an injury prevention clinic led by a physical therapist.  Coaches will lead weekly group runs and weekly track workouts.  Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll pass them on to Kate, Sara, and Mary!
ICANRUN_flyer*As always, the above opinions are my own. I have not been compensated financially by Kate or Kaia Fit to promote this event.


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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9 comments on “Small Breakthroughs
  1. Your fartlek intervals are great! I have no idea what speed I run mine at but I’m pretty confident they’re not 7:xx! I seem unable to go below 8! I do agree with the faster/shorter steps though. That def makes a difference. I’m guessing you tried pumping your arms? That does the same thing – make your feet turn faster and also speeds you up. There will be a lot of arm-pumping on Sunday!
    Have an amazing time in Taiwan. I’d love to see pics.

    • Jen says:

      Isn’t it ironic that the day you posted this, you then went on to run a sub-8 mile during a tempo run??!!! We should keep making proclamations like this in the the comments… maybe one day we’ll be Olympic atheletes (ha!).

  2. Dominick S. says:

    Great week! I am definitely a fan of the shorter stride for quicker turnover. It feels so much stronger regardless. Have fun overseas!

  3. I ran with my husband yesterday. I had to slow down every now and then because he’s faster than I am so that was my fartlek run. I read that you’ll be running Big Sur. I ran the Big Sur Marathon and loved it. It was beautiful!

  4. I know how good a break can be feel! Good luck at your races!!

  5. Angela says:

    Have a GREAT trip!!!

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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